Can the Lib Dems come second in June Euro elections?

There must be something in the water in Wales that instils deep confidence in our leaders. The Welsh Lib Dems’ leader, Kirsty Williams, has her ‘Project 31’, with its aim of propelling the party into majority government in the Welsh Assembly. And speaking to BBC Wales last week, ahead of the party’s Welsh conference, national leader Nick Clegg declared his determination that the Lib Dems should push Labour into third place in this June’s elections to the European Parliament.

The party has done this just twice in its recent history, and both times – 2004 and 2008 – were according to the BBC-projected national share of the vote in local council elections. Indeed, the last set of Euro elections were fought at the party’s post-Iraq high-water mark, and saw the party finish in fourth place, behind Ukip.

The website Predict09.eu has calculated that the Lib Dems will improve considerably on the 2004 result, up 4% to 19.1%. However, both Labour and the Tories, it reckons, will do even better, with Labour up 6% to 28.7%, and the Tories up almost 7% to 33.5%. Owing to the overall reduction in the number of UK MEPs, the net beneficiaries of such a result would be Labour (+3) and the Lib Dems (+1). The Tories would stand still, while Ukip and the Greens would incur big losses (-8 and -2 respectively).

Make of these figures what you will. As polling guru Anthony Wells notes, the equivalent prediction in 2004 was wide of the mark, significantly overstating both Labour and the Tories, and wrongly discounting Ukip. They were spot-on for the Lib Dems, though, and claim to have refined their model since then.

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9 Comments

  • David Morton 21st Apr '09 - 8:11am

    I can only assume from those comments that he has either

    (a) really good internal polling

    (b) an odd sense of expectations management.

    Who knows ? I certainly don’t but..

    We’ve only managed it twice before in Locals which are the elections where we get our highest score. the Euros are where we do worst. In fact one of those was the 2004 elections held on the same day we cam fourth behind UKIP.

    The “Others” are bouyant in the polls. It’ll be Lucas and Farrage first Euro elections as respective leaders of there parties. By their standards they’ll get loads of air time and are both plausible figures IMHO if you are into that kind of thing.

    And then there is the BNP? Lots of local By Elections are picking up a surge. If they can get 800000 votes and over 5% in 2004 in the boom years and just after a jingoistic war then how are they going to perform in a bust and after MP’s expenses?

    Finally if you look at London list PR doesn’t seem to be doing much for the cohesion of our vote.

    Its a witches brew. Second ? Perhaps. Fourth Again ? you’d be brave to rule it out.

  • Also 2nd on the BBC projection in 2006 (but not on the larger Rallings & Thresher projection)

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/vote2006/locals/html/region_99999.stm

    At the time the party spun this for all it was worth to cover up a fairly poor set of results.

    Conveniently they then forgot this in 2008 (a decent set of results) to make the “only for the second time” claim.

    On the polls. In 2004 we were polling in the 20s and actually got well below that. Now we are polling around 19% max – I can’t really see us matching our opinion poll ratings in a Euro election and I don’t think that’s something we’ve ever managed.

  • Off topic, but I believe, I hope correctly, that in May this year Lord Tope (Sutton LBC) and Sir David Williams (Richmond LBC) will both celebrate uninterrupted 35 year terms on their respective local authorities.

    Two questions :

    – are these the longest uninterrupted terms that any Liberal/Liberal Democrat or Progressive has served as an elected councillor on a local authority in the Inner London or Greater London area since the introduction of modern local government in 1889 ?

    – are there any other current Liberal Democrat councillors elsewhere in Britain who have comparable (or longer) uninterrupted service on their local authorities ?

  • “…significantly underestimating both Labour and the Tories, and wrongly discounting Ukip. They were spot-on for the Lib Dems, though, and claim to have refined their model since then.”

    Does that mean now it will underestimate the Lib Dems as well now? I hope so :-)

  • 😆 No Chance!

  • Terry Gilbert 25th Apr '09 - 1:25am

    Reminds me of the old joke about SDP men being good lovers because they were so good at coming second….

  • Mark Williams 9th Jun '09 - 5:20pm

    No. Next question?

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